Packet generators create a discrete chunk of communication in a predefined format. A packet is a data block containing a header that includes a destination address (e.g., an IP address). All network communications that occur across a packet-switched system transmit packets. These packets are then reassembled by a receiving system frame at the destination. The purpose of a packet generator is to permit users or network specialists to construct a packet (e.g., WAN packet, VoIP packet, or IPsec packet) from one or more specific protocol stack areas for the purpose of testing security, communication effectiveness, or source-to-destination accuracy.
Types of Packet Generators
A variety of packet generators are available based on the packet type. A TCP/IP packet generator allows users to construct a transmission control protocol/Internet protocol (TCP/IP) packet that gives them control over such elements as the Interface IP Address, IP header parameters, packet numbers, intervals, and Ethernet MAC addresses. Packet generators are also capable of repetitious packet generation to test the efficacy of WAN packets (transmitted over wide area networks), and VoIP packets used in voice communications over the Internet protocol. Packet generators also play a crucial role in network monitoring and security applications. For example, packet generators can be used to produce IPsec packets for the auditing and testing of firewalls and network DMZs. These packet generations are often created through the use of scripting languages such as Perl, Python, and Tcl. Packet generators are also used to assess two of the most common communication problems in packet-switched networks. Random packet loss is a non-malicious dropping of packets, which typically occurs due to old, faulty equipment or data overload. Random packet delay is a network condition where packet receipt by a frame is delayed, usually the result of degradation in the receiving state of that frame.
Suppliers of packet generators may be categorized by specialties and costs. The ranges of both depend upon the type of packet generator required and the inclusive features. Some packet generators are part of the open-source movement and commonly designed for UNIX/Linux type systems, while others utilize specific functionality and features based on network operating system platforms.